You might find this hard to believe: not everyone owns an iPhone or one of the several thousand decent Androids for sale or even a Windows phone. Crazy! But what's even more insane is the number of shockingly horrible dumbphones major US carriers are still selling like it's 2006. Here are the worst of the worst.
There's still a need for the cheap phone. Maybe you dropped your smartphone in the toilet and need a loaner. Maybe you can't afford a phone. Maybe you just don't care about phones at all! Maybe you just want something that makes calls and maybe you'll check a webpage or maybe not. In all of these cases, there are swell, completely free phones that you can get from every major carrier. Yes, you need a data plan with those. And yes, we're deep enough into the 21st century that it's worth it.
And then, there's what you find below. A buffet of horrendous hardware, redundant mediocrity, and straight ugliness. Phones that are both bad and not free. Dumbphones that pretend to be Android. Thing thing. Why do they exist? Presumably, because people are buying them—but why are there so many? Why sell ten flavors of ass soup? We don't know, but here's the menu.
The Samsung Gusto not only has a dumb name, but it costs $80 with a two year Verizon contract. It's a flipphone. It costs $80. Like every other phone listed here, it has a pitiful camera, no real web browser, and no actual specs to speak of. A dumbphone in the keenest sense.
The Samsung Brightside looks like a fake Android phone. Maybe it is? But its counterfeit chic look doesn't come with a counterfeit price: $120, with Verizon contract.
I'm really not even sure what this is. The Samsung Flight II is $40 on AT&T for some reason.
Not only does Kyocera still make phones, it makes this faux BlackBerry "Brio." It comes with a calendar, and is $220 sans contract, or a freebie with one from Sprint.
T-Mobile says you can "have fun and discover new things while you stay connected" with this phone, but the truth is that nobody will be your friend if you own it. This thing is only $10 with contract, but it literally has a ": )" in its name (Samsung :) t359), so here we are.
Pantech Jest is free, but it's also a Pantech Jest.
The LG Revere is another inexplicable $80 flipphone, courtesy of Verizon.
If you like the idea of the Pantech Jest but don't want to commit to a phone that is a square, here's the Pantech Hotshot. It's called the Hotshot because you'll feel like a real "hotshot" while using it. It is free, because Verizon is merciful.
The LG Xpression looks exactly like the Hotshot, and is also a make believe pseudo-Android—but this one will take $50 of your money (with two year AT&T contract).
It's impossible to tell the difference between the LG Xpression and the Pantech Ease, which is also $50 from AT&T and is also terrible.
This thing, the LG Extravert, is $100 from Verizon.
Noooooooooooooooooooooooo. $100 with AT&T contract.
Why are these awful phones for sale—some for very much money!—when you can buy phones that aren't awful and cost zero dollars? Corporate apathy, manufacturing antipathy, a large populace of people who will literally walk into a store and buy anything, like molecules bouncing around in a void—all possible. Or there might not be an answer to this question, which is perhaps the most terrifying answer of all.